Malliotakis offers 10 recommendations on Access-A-Ride program

Following a series of MTA Access-A-Ride (AAR) forums she hosted last year, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis held a conference at St. Nicholas Home on Friday, March 27, discussing 10 recommendations for how the service could be more convenient to its users.

The list was compiled after listening to the concerns and hardships AAR subscribers voiced during the various meetings.

“After the 63 complaints that my office received, we tried to help navigate on behalf of constituents and came up with a list of recommendations,” said Malliotakis. “It’s my hope that the MTA will truly consider these recommendations and implement as many of these as possible.”

Suggestions include taking quality of service into consideration when issuing contracts and reinstating a car service option for outer-borough trips with a trip limit per month to avoid abuse.

One of the two recommendations that Malliotakis found to be of utmost significance would be shifting more rides from paratransit vehicles to car service sedans to reduce costs and provide better service.

“This is one of the biggest things they can do to improve the Access-A-Ride service,” she stated. “When you have a paratransit vehicle, you’re stopping many times along the way to get to your destination because you’re picking up other passengers. With sedans, it’s door-to-door service so you’re not going to pick up passengers for the most part, unless it’s a nearby person, on the way to your destination.” Malliotakis contended that this would be more efficient and cost-efficient for the MTA.

The other suggestion that is vital to improving AAR, according to Malliotakis, is providing permanent certification to users whose conditions won’t improve over time.

“There’s a recertification every five years to be eligible for the program,” she said. “Thirty percent of users are 80 or older. So if we started with 80 or above, and I think it should be less, like 75, you shouldn’t have to go through the recertification anymore once you have a certain disability. Your condition is only going to deteriorate with age. It doesn’t make sense to make seniors go through all these hoops to get recertified.”

Other suggestions include requiring GPS devices in all vehicles, extending the five-minute wait AAR allows passengers before penalizing them, and adding an AAR representative to the MTA board.

According to the assemblymember, “Most of [the changes] can be easily done. I don’t see anything in here that is a real burden. None of them are going to cost them additional money.”

President of AARP Chapter 3630 Peter Killen said that such changes were long-overdue. “I have a friend who lives in Staten Island and uses Access-A-Ride to go to the VA Hospital in Brooklyn,” he recounted. “Once, the driver picked him up then drove somewhere else in Staten Island six miles away to get someone else and took a longer route to get to the hospital and back to his house.

“There’s something wrong there,” Killen said.

Malliotakis already has one member of the MTA board on board. “Assemblywoman Malliotakis and I constantly discuss ways to make our transportation system more reliable and cost efficient,” said MTA Board member Allen Cappelli in a statement. “I would urge the Paratransit officials to continue to work toward these goals by seriously considering the suggestions outlined in her report.”


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